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Welsh cyclist to ride 3,000 miles on bamboo bike to highlight climate crisis

05 Jun 2023 5 minute read
World-record breaking cyclist Kate Strong. Photo CK Athlete Shots

A record-breaking cyclist from Cardiff will embark on a 3,000-mile challenge on a handmade bamboo bike around the circumference of the UK to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

Kate Strong, 44, holds three cycling world records and a triathlon championship, but hopes her 90-day challenge has a focus on “connection”.

Ms Strong, who works part-time as head of impact for Climategames and is a performance and impact coach, will set off from Westminster on June 5, cycling to Norwich for her first official stop before travelling to places including Edinburgh, John O’Groats, Glasgow and Liverpool.

She then plans to cycle along the coast of Wales, through Cardiff and Bristol, before reaching Land’s End in Cornwall, and will then head back to London to complete the feat on September 2.

“It’s been three years in the making,” Ms Strong, who is based in London, told the PA news agency.

“I’ve never cycled more than five days in a row, so I’ve got 90 days in a row.

“Apart from the physical wear and tear, just mentally I’m unsure how I’ll feel, and that’s why I’ve opened the route up for people to come and join me.”

Urgent action

Ms Strong was inspired to complete the challenge because she said the climate crisis needs to be dealt with in an “immediate” way.

“I’m not a scientist, and this is just my opinion, but we need immediate action, we need urgent action,” she said.

“And we’ve got the micro level of the individual, which is important, but the biggest change is from the Government.

“We need massive action, but on an individual level, and then pass it on to the Government and the macro to make sure the framework that we work within supports the bigger picture as well.”

Ms Strong aims to complete the challenge on a handmade bike built partly out of bamboo from a kit bought from a company called the Bamboo Bicycle Club.

She originally filed the bamboo and connected the pieces with hemp fabric dipped in resin to hold the frame in place.

“It was unrideable,” she said, laughing. “There’s no way it could have managed 3,000 miles.”

Her bike will now be bound with pre-set steel to help keep the parts together.

“It’s only the frame that is made of bamboo,” she said.

“Everything else is normal bike components and my seat is my old seat from when I used to race triathlon.”

Climate projects

As part of the ride, she plans to visit around 40 innovative climate projects across the country.

One project in Cardiff involves a charity called Keep Wales Tidy, where she will address a youth climate panel in July.

“I’m really looking forward to hearing what the youth have to say, what they think is important, and what they would like me, as an older woman, to do,” she said.

“I think I’m doing the right thing, but they might have other opinions, and also to hear what’s important to them and how we can help contribute to their future.”

Ms Strong said she hopes to inspire 3,000 people to join her on their bikes – one person for every mile – and she has also pledged to fund one tree to be planted for every person who joins her.

“That will keep me going during the cycle as well, knowing that if I can push through a bit of pain, maybe someone will jump on their bike and do 10 minutes, and they’ll be motivated.”

Ms Strong originally intended to complete an ultimate triathlon by cycling the Race Across America – which covers 3,000 miles from the east to west coast – followed by swimming the Channel and climbing Mount Everest.

But it “didn’t sit well” with her due to the carbon footprint she would have accumulated.

“I just stopped it all,” she said.

“There’s no rush, I don’t need to be doing this like a race, and I brought it to home.

“I thought, let’s keep it at 3,000 miles, let’s explore Britain, let’s slow it down, and use sport as a way of connecting, not competing.”

Ms Strong said that although she is to take camping gear with her, she will also be “relying on strangers with a spare room”.

“By camping, it’s a way of saying we need to get more out in nature and get curious about it and start protecting it, otherwise we won’t care.

“If the weather is super wet, that’s when I will start knocking on strangers’ doors, going ‘do you have a spare room?’, or ‘could I sleep in your shed?’ – just something to soften the misery a little bit.”

Information on Ms Strong’s plans and for details on how to join her along the route, virtually or in person, can be found on her website.

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